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How the CIO's Role Is Changing--a Lot

The job title of the CIO is one that is morphing to meet new requirements from all areas of business.

Those in the role of chief information officer have seen a lot of changes in terms of roles, responsibilities and duties. This has been especially true in the last few years, as the cloud and its associated technologies have become more prevalent.

Indeed, the job title of the CIO is one that is morphing to meet new requirements from all areas of business. Overseeing everything from rogue cloud usage to business units developing their own cloud environments can be a lot to manage. At the same time, these groups, under increased pressure to improve business cost savings and do more with less, may not be aware of, or care about, the security issues they could potentially be exposing the company to in the pursuit of these goals.

This situation has culminated into a perfect storm of pressure for these business units. All areas of the company are being tasked with making things happen ahead of the competition, doing more with fewer resources and creating virtually instantaneous results. Each of the business units is responsible for its own budget and getting the most bang for the buck. Why consult outside the unit--with IT and the CIO?  The perception is that if they control their own budgets, they should control their own "IT Destiny."

This ideology can eventually lead to an even more complex and, ultimately, even costlier endeavor for the business. For example, the finance department builds out its own billing systems on a readily available PaaS platform that makes sense for their budget, while operations is out building its own systems, utilizing some of the same data components on an entirely different model. You can see how this could become unwieldy and dangerous just by adding a few more different business units inside of the company. How is the CIO supposed to control this animal, let alone get a good night’s rest!?

Although cloud computing is one of the most provocative things in decades to have happened for IT aficionados, including the CIO, it is creating a bit of confusion within the role. In the past, the CIO was responsible for purchasing hardware, maintaining and managing the data centers, and, ultimately, for making all things IT “just work,” among other things. The CIO is the proverbial “person behind the curtain.”

Today, if you look at cloud and all the things it makes possible, seemingly instantaneously, everything has to move even faster and work together perfectly. Add cloud strategy and maintaining legacy infrastructure to keep the business running, while capital budgets are tightened and new initiatives are being pursued, and you have a lot of plates spinning in the air. It’s no wonder some CIOs are confused. 

Today’s CIOs, more than ever, need a solid understanding of the company’s data and where that data resides, and treat it as one of the prime assets. The CFO of the company manages the company’s finances, and the CIO should follow suite and manage the company’s data with the same rigor. In order to accomplish that, the CIO must understand:

  1. Where the data is
  2. Which business group is responsible for that data
  3. Access roles for the data - which business groups can use the data

It really comes down to having the business insight to understand how the processes work, the landscape of the business market and the ability to capitalize on potential business opportunities--all while having the technical insight to bring these pieces together into a unified strategy. 

There is no question that technology is changing the business of IT and the roles that support and manage it. To be successful in the IT business, now and as it evolves in the future, CIOs need to understand the "roots" of the business--the Where, Which, Accessibility of the business data--and have the technical acumen necessary to help bring it all together and succeed in the new IT future. By changing the game a bit and sharing the technical resources available to them with the business, instead of the business setting the direction of IT and cloud, it helps keep control and gives the CIO…a little rest.

Kirk Bohn is currently the Global Cloud Enablement Services Leader for Arrow Electronics, driving strategic enablement programs with service providers. Previously, he served as a Cloud Solutions Architect responsible for cloud business development and planning in North America within Arrow. Kirk brings proven leadership and experience in alliances and partner strategy, as well as industry cloud knowledge to partners on a global basis. Kirk has held a number of support, consulting, operations and sales roles in a 21-year span at companies such as Intelligent Electronics, Sun Microsystems and Hosting.com. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Oklahoma State University.

In addition to his professional career, Kirk is heavily involved within CompTIA and serves as a Cloud SME and on the Executive Cloud Advisory Council. He looks forward to providing leadership, knowledge and passion to organizations and programs that are interested in cloud strategies and annuity type business models that result in business growth.

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